WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, July 1917

The ‘Camp Diary’ provides an insight into the Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16) and No.9 Command Depot (1916-1919) that followed. Based on newspaper reports of the time.

July 1917 – news has been received the Government proposes to acquire and fell timber in the locality. The Government has selected the Coopers Hill Plantation which is fondly known and enjoyed as ‘The Pines,’ together with areas in the Millbrook district and 500 acres near Aspley Heath.

The Pines – Victorian beauty spot

Mr Charles P. Hall, the agent to the Duke of Bedford, regretfully confirmed that the news is true; it also affects His Grace who is being pressed to supply extremely large quantities on the grounds of ‘national necessity.’

A special meeting of Ampthill Urban District Council was convened and unanimously resolved to protest strongly against the felling of The Pines on the grounds that it is one of the main features and chief attractions of the town, and provides the only open space in proximity to the town, to which the public have open access; and also on the grounds of the health-giving properties of the pines, particularly in cases of pulmonary affection, which has made Ampthill for many years a health resort for numberous visitors.

The Council also resolved to implore Local Members of Parliament to use their influence, and a petition will be opened for signature by the ratepayers.

1917.07.13 BS CFC

Bedfordshire Standard – July 13, 1917

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

This month 12 Ampthill recruits have been killed in action or died of their battle wounds. Three of the boys – Privates Bransome, Elsdon and Ball – come from Luton. Private Stocker trained with the Bedfords’ and was killed serving with the 21st Machine Gun Gorps.

  • Casualties

23490 Private Percy A. REEVE (21) of Watford Killed in Action on July 5
20674 Private Arthur H. BUTCHER (24) of Milton Keynes Died of Wounds on July 6
19569 Private Sidney READ (22) of Orton Waterville Died of Wounds on July 7
22530 Private Joseph BRANSOME (33) of Luton Died of Wounds on July 8
18971 Private Ernest ELSDON (20) of Luton Killed in Action on July 12
22801 Lance Corporal Walter GOODMAN (32) of Marston Church End Killed in Action on July 16
23136 Private George A. KILBY (23) of Ramsey Hollow Killed in Action on July 16
30779 Private George HILLS (31) of Beechwood Green Killed in Action on July 20
18459 Private Robert W. AMBROSE (22) of Earith Killed in Action on July 28
22996 Private Alfred BALL (21) of Luton Killed in Action on July 29
18476 Private Frank JEFFS of Fenstanton Killed in Action on July 29
21602 Private Robert W. STOCKER (21) of Biggleswade Killed in Action on July 31


The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog

Report on the Activities of the 126 Company Canadian Forestry Corps. Ampthill 1917-18 (K.Fadden)
A Review of Activities with the 126th Company Canadian Forestry Corps while stationed at Ampthill, Bedfordshire, Eng. (Sgt H. Porter, 1918)


Next installment to be published on 31 August 2017….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.

BUY: Stencilling Tommy’s Footprints

This 48 page book tells the story of how Tommy’s Footprints came about and notes the many people who have contributed and connected. There are just 150 individually numbered books. A unique gift.

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Proceeds will help to fund a book about the Ampthill Camp ~ profits to benefit the charity Combat Stress which was founded in 1919 to help WWI veterans deal with shell shock.

£6 (inc p&p). Please email hartleyhare135@gmail.com to order by PayPal or BACS transfer. The book is also available from Ampthill Town Council, The Hub and The Stationery Boutique in Ampthill while stocks last.

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